Climbing to New Heights

I’ve never been a very fearful person. In fact, I think anyone who decides to go down the road of starting their own business must be missing the bit in the part of our brains that controls fear — it’s really the only way to explain such a decision. However, this is not to say I am fearless. I actually believe some of the most successful people in life have found a balance of letting go of fear just enough to always forge ahead, but not be so fearless that it teeters on the edge of reckless.

As a child I was completely fearless. (Weren’t so many of us?) Not yet having experienced the consequences of careless decisions, injury, failure, or great loss, I would just throw myself fully into everything I did, without much thought, and certainly with no fear. However, with time, with some falls, fails, bruises, scrapes, and even some broken bones along the way, I slowly learned to look before I leapt (at least some of the time) — and even, over time, grew so fearful of certain things, I have had to work to now overcome those fears.

I especially remember being completely fearless of heights as a child. Even taunting my older brother (who happened to be quite fearful of heights) at the edge of the Grand Canyon on a family trip when I was about 10 years old. Of course I thought it was funny, not knowing what that kind of fear felt like, and how cruel my actions actually were. More positively, I loved to fly (and am grateful to have grown up in a family who could travel a lot), I played every sport under the sun, and jumped horses competitively for much of my life (and even had a few horses fall on me or toss me off - neither is for the faint of heart).

Then when I was in my early twenties, something suddenly flipped. I don’t remember what sparked it. At one point I thought it was actually due to the events of 9/11, from which I still hold weird guilt over having been at college in Madison, Wisconsin, as opposed to in New York, my home, as it was under attack. But it wasn’t just that. I guess I had reached that point in life where the stakes of failure started to get higher. I had the realization that life is fragile and can be lost in a moment’s notice, and had learned first-hand what real pain — both emotionally and physically — felt like. And all of a sudden I was afraid. I was afraid to fly, I was afraid to fail in school, I was afraid of losing relationships, I was afraid that maybe my life wouldn’t turn out to be as meaningful as I had always hoped it would be.

It wasn’t until my thirties that I started to realize how much of my life was being driven by fear. By then it was the fear of not having enough money, the fear of settling down with the wrong person, or worse, the fear of ending up alone. I was plagued with the fear of never finding a career I was truly passionate about, and spent far too much time fearing what other people thought about me! Then it all slowly started to melt. Maybe it was that I started to practice yoga; maybe it was that I had experienced more life and more pain, that had become harder — not easier — but made me acutely aware that I was still standing. Maybe it was because I realized with each failure or loss that I learned so much about myself and about life. Maybe it’s because I started to learn what really mattered.

I believe it was the combination of all of these lessons, which is what life is really about. Learning to live so that we climb to our greatest heights without being driven by the fear of falling, but appreciating the care and consideration one must take on to keep climbing. This healthy balance of bravery and yet awareness is what keeps me going.

Our featured gym this week, Brooklyn Boulders, is all about climbing to new heights. The gym itself was born from scrappy beginnings — a Facebook group of climbers looking for a local gym where they could practice and meet here in NYC. BK Boulders indoor climbing gym has been welcomed with opened arms, and climbers can scale walls of all levels, from bouldering (low climbs without a rope), to complicated routes straight up to the ceiling. They have since opened doors to 3 more climbing gyms, in Boston, Chicago, and another one here, in Long Island City.

We have a whole week of content designed around climbing to new heights: Blogger and life coach Cassandra Bodzak explains how carving out quiet time will allow you to propel to new heights in your pursuits; beauty and self-love expert Nitika Chopra encourages us to own our own true voice; Paleo and gluten-free chef Simone Miller proves that alternative eating can be simple and still taste like five-star gourmet; and Barry’s Bootcamp trainer Omri Rachet allows us a glimpse into his journey from the Israeli Armed Forces to choosing his own path in NYC fitness.

Don’t let fear be your guide! Take chances and allow yourself to fly.

Until next week,

Aly Teich
Founder, CEO, and Host
The Sweat Life